By LINDSAY WELBERS
The University of Chicago will replace the aging Pierce Hall with a new, $148 million student dormitory designed by Jeanne Gang and Gang Studios.
Pierce Tower, 5514 S. University Ave., will be demolished in mid-August, said U. of C. news director Jeremy Manier. By the fall of 2016 the new dorm should be open to first- through fourth-year students.
The university unveiled its plans to replace the aging building with three towers — five, 11 and 15 stories in height — that will occupy the lot where Pierce Tower currently stands and also the open field behind it.
Manier said work is not expected to close either 55th Street or University Avenue during the three years the site will be under construction. The tallest tower will be 165 feet tall.
The three towers will be slightly angled in the center, so as to seem less imposing from the street. The new dorm will have eight houses, each with about 100 students. Every three stories will have its own “house hub” where students can gather in a communal setting further clustering the buildings.
Manier said the university would like to see 75 percent of its student body living on campus. Having students of varying ages living in the same space is designed to encourage creativity and build a stronger sense of community. Older students can live in the apartment-style suites while younger undergrads can live in more traditional the one- or two-bedroom dorms.
Trees will line University Avenue, in an attempt to maintain a residential field along the block, but 55th Street will have a more active streetscape that includes retail.
The new dormitory will have space for 800 students, up from Pierce’s 250-student capacity.
Gang, who received the MacArthur genius grant in 2011, said the university asked her to incorporate elements from the school’s Gothic architecture, a challenge considering Gang is known for modern and organic design.
The project’s funding will come primarily from philanthropic donations and from room and board. There are no plans to use tax increment financing dollars.